Uttarakhand is a northern State and situated on the southern slope of the mighty Himalayas. It borders China (Tibet) on the north, Nepal on the east and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south, Haryana to the west and Himachal Pradesh to the north west. Uttarakhand is located between . The climate and vegetation of different cities of this state vary with the altitude of its location. Glaciers being located at the highest elevations have coolest weather and are covered by ice and bare rock. However there is dense tropical forest at the lower elevations. The Western Himalayas between 3000-3500 meters are covered with Alpine Shrub and Meadows. Two of India's mightiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna start off from the glaciers of Uttarakhand. There are also several other perennial lakes and many streams in the region. The geography of Uttarakhand is so much varied that it has been geographically divided into two parts, the western half known as Garhwal and the eastern region as Kumaon. An area of 3.47 million hectare area is covered by forests. For administrative purposes it is divided into 2 divisions. There are 15,638 villages and 86 urban settlements spread across 13 districts. The population of Uttarakhand in 2001 was 8489349 comprising of 4325924 males and 4163425 females. It formed 0.82% of India’s population. Population density in the State was 159/km2.
The State Uttarakhand falls under the agro-climatic zone- I i.e. Western Himalayan Region Climatically the State is situated in the Temperate Zone. However, the climate varies from sultry hot in the foot hills to arctic cold in snow capped peaks with subtropical climates in the river valleys. Physiographically, the region is divided into following 4 sub agro-climatic zones. i.e. (i) The outer Himalayas Zone or Shivalik hills which is located at 500 to 1250 m above mean sea level (ii)The lesser Himalayas Zone located at 1250 to 2750 m above mean sea level (iii) The Great Himalayas Zone located at 2750 to 4500 m above mean sea level and (iv) The Trans Himalayas Zone located at 4500 m above mean sea level
Uttarakhand mainly has two different climatic regions, namely, the hilly terrain and the smaller plain region. So, the weather is also quite varied, depending on the particular place. Summers, in most of the Uttarakhand are mostly pleasant, but some places do have hot climate. The temperatures, in places like Haridwar, Rishikesh, etc. can reach the 40 degrees Celsius mark. Coupled with humidity, this can be pretty uncomfortable. The summer season of Uttarakhand extends from April to June. Winters in Uttarakhand are very cold, with many places receiving regular snowfalls. Temperature during the winter season ranges from sub zero to about 15 degrees Celsius. The winter season in Uttarakhand generally extends from October to February. During the period of July to September, lies the monsoon season of Uttarakhand. The temperature ranges from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius at most of the places, during this time.. The state receives approximately 90% of its annual rainfall in this season.
(d) Land Holdings:
The total geographical area of Uttarakhand is 5.67 million hectare and the area under forest 3.47 million hectare. The net area sown is 765150 hectare. The gross cropped area is 1244920 hectare and the area sown more than once is 8.841 million hectare with the cropping intensity of 161%. The net irrigated area is 345020 hectare (By canals- 27.6 %, By Tubewells- 63.1% and by others – 9.30%). The gross irrigated area is 554013 hectare and the percentage of net irrigated sown area is 45.1%. The total number of land holdings are 921554 out of which 658214 (71.4%) are marginal farmers, 162881 (17.7%) small farmers and 100459 (10.9%) farmers hold land above 2 hectare.
(e) Cropping Pattern
The Zones in the State of Uttarakhand have different climatic conditions, slope, and height, the variations extending to even short distances, where the micro-climate changes due to interaction of these various factors. The farmer not only understands this but has adopted his farming practices accordingly over generations. The overall cropping pattern of the Uttarakhand is typically of an underdeveloped agricultural economy. On the whole, 86 per cent of agriculture practiced in the state is rain fed. Nearly 90% of the total cropped area is devoted to subsistence food crops mainly grown for domestic consumption and local market. Commercial or cash crops occupy a very negligible portion of the cropped area. Farmers often grow three crops in two years Irrigated agriculture is confined to the fertile valleys in the hills, where HYVs and chemical fertilizers are used. The main crops are wheat, paddy, maize, manduwa and sanwa in food grains, urad, gram, pea, masoor & rajma in pulses and mustard, soybean, groundnut in oil seeds. Rice and wheat dominate the agricultural realm from one corner of the region to the other. Cropping pattern also varies with the variations in the climatic conditions and cropping seasons. The influence of the monsoon on the cropping pattern is very dominant; with the result of the total cropped area about 70 to 75 per cent is under ‘Kharif’ or rainy season crops. In the region whatever may be the type of soil or the amount of rainfall the dominance of food grains in the cropping pattern is everywhere obvious The highest sown area is under wheat crop (34.79%) followed by rice with 24.3%. Mandua, a traditional millet crop has 15.1% sown area, while the area under pulses is 4.61%. Rest of the area is under other millets including koni, jhangora, jowar, bajara, maize and oilseeds.
(f) Land holding:
Per cent area irrigated was about 32% under Not Having Tractor (NHT) category of farmers, while it was 70% under Having Tractor category of farmers. Cropping intensity was 160% under Not Having Tractor category of farmers, while it is was 176% under Having Tractor category of farmers. Majority of the farmers, i.e. about 61% have land holding upto 2 ha, 24% farmers have 2 to 4 ha. and only 12% farmers have above 4 ha. land under Not Having Tractor category of farmers have about 0.8% land in holding size upto 2 ha, 1% farmers have land holding of 2 to 4 ha and 2.2% farmers have land holding above 4 ha under Having Tractor category of farmers.
Mechanization is essential for timeliness in field operations and precision in placement of costly inputs to increase productivity, reduce unit cost of production and drudgery in farm operations as well as conservation of natural resources. For intensification of agriculture farm power availability need to be increased from the present level of about 0.60 kW/ha to about 2.0 kW/ha in by 2020. Equipment and power units suitable for hill agriculture, agro-processing and rural living needs to be selected, tested, adapted and introduced in the region. Power units like extra light power tillers, hill-side tractors, and efficient power operated tools and implements for horticultural crops should be procured and evaluated for adoption. For efficiency and economy in tillage and sowing/ planting/transplanting operations, large scale adoption of rotavators, conservation tillage technologies (zero till drills, strip till drills, roto-till-drills, till-plant machines, raised bed planters, ridger seeder etc.) and promotion of precision drills, planters and transplanters need to be given high priorities.